Analytics Part 1: Inbound CX hubs
Adapt to thrive
“Are you effectively capturing customer insight in your contact centre, and enabling other departments to act on this intelligence?” 
Understanding customer experience (“CX”) data is what contact centres do. But the speed at which the CX ecosystem is changing makes it difficult for them to analyse captured data effectively.
Some of the biggest changes in the ecosystem have occurred in the last two years, and we’re already seeing how their impact is laying the foundations for a new model of contact centre operations. And that model increasingly depends on big data analytics and the software integrations that enable businesses to implement those analytics.
This is Part 1 of our series of blogs on analytics. Here, we outline the fundamental changes occurring in the contact centre landscape and consider what technologies the contact centre needs to adapt and thrive.
The evolution of the contact centre
The key change is the evolving role of the contact centre. A recent piece of qualitative research conducted by the UK’s Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) reveals that industry leaders have made “becoming a hub for all inbound CX data” a key part of their strategy.
“Some organizations have consolidated inbound customer activity across all channels into the contact centre team.” 
One reason for that change includes the expansion of the contact centre’s role into the sales and marketing areas of their business. That new role has developed organically during the evolution of customer experience services in recent years, but it has also been spurred on by other events – which we’ll look at here.
Those events are the regulatory change to third-party cookies, and the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. Let us look at what industry specialists have been saying about the impact of those events on the contact centre industry.
Primary source of first-party CX data
The first event to look at is the regulatory change in marketing that is ending the use of third-party cookies.
In a recent webinar organized by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) in the UK, Zachary Faruque, Offering Analyst at OneTrust Preference Choice discussed the “shifts that impact marketing data collection and personalisation”, including GDPR, third-party cookies, and media coverage of the issues. 
Customers now have more control and privacy rights. But marketers face limitations on what they can do, thanks to restricted browser activity tracking capabilities and limited ad personalisation and tracking.
The result is that business can no longer get CX data easily or at low cost from third-party sources; instead, they will need to look to their existing sources of first-party data – and in most businesses, that source is their contact centre.
“…data that comes from customers themselves is, almost by definition, the most valuable tool you have—and you don’t have to pay a social media company to get it.” 
The end of third-party cookies is a regulatory change that’s speeding up the evolution of the contact centre’s role of hub for inbound CX data – across all channels and drawing in multiple business systems such as customer relationship management (“CRM”) platforms.
Lockdown data surges
The second major event that’s affected the contact centre has been the sudden rise in online customer activity for many sectors during 2020, consequent to the pandemic.
Qualitative and structured quantitative research into the responses of the contact centre industry during the pandemic has been conducted by numerous technology suppliers in this space, as well as by independent bodies such as ContactBabel. Their results are broadly similar, and show that a number of significant changes have unfolded with one of the biggest being increased contact volumes.
“75% of retail respondents stated that contact volumes were either severe or challenging” 
Pressure to meet service levels has come from the cumulative impact of reduced budgets (as businesses prioritized reserves of cash), remote working challenges, and staffing issues (furlough, other absences, departures).
Some sectors, such as B2B, saw no issue with contact volumes, while others, such as public transportation carriers, saw demand fluctuate — decreasing and resuming normal levels in response to government lockdown announcements.
As customers were forced away from physical stores and towards online shopping and services, their behavior changed. For example, customer ratings on levels of expectation and satisfaction dramatically altered depending on channel and the precise context of lockdown at that time. Their choice of channel changed, too, with video, social media messaging and self-service seeing the biggest increases in usage.
Contact centre services responded to these shifts. Some focused on creating new digital channels, such as direct messaging in Facebook and Twitter. Others saw an opportunity to advance their self-service offering.
As a result of those social and technology changes, large volumes of data from multiple channels, from numerous touch points along the customer pathway, have been generated, all handled by a variety of agents whose specialisms ranged from novice to expert.
The challenges of operational capacity and data analysis have never been so pressing for the contact centre. The cascade of business reactions to last year’s pandemic has accelerated the contact centre’s pivot to a new position where greater value is seen in what it provides.
“Contact centres are also taking on a greater significance for retailer and FMCG brands. Historically such businesses have considered physical stores as being the front lines of their brand, and contact centres as back office. As consumers continue to migrate more of their browsing and shopping to online there is a growing appreciation of the role that contact centres can play.” 
To fulfill its role as the hub for inbound CX data and face of the business brand, the contact centre must be able to offer the rest of the business quality data insights to help make sense of the massive volume of CX information now being handled. The contact centre can do that if it integrates software and analytics innovations into its business intelligence systems.
And this is a significant pain point in the industry. Almost 50% of survey respondents in ContactBabel’s major annual report for 2020-2021 said that not having a single view of the customer across channels was a major problem.
“Not being able to view the customer across channels means that the full benefit of Omnichannel contact cannot be achieved, and that unnecessary time and effort are being spent by the customer, with sub-optimal results for all concerned.”
In order to play a strategic role in the wider business, the contact centre must provide a fully integrated view of customer. So, how can they do that?
The answer is the customer engagement software that contact centres use to capture their data – and to gain insights into it.
- Real-time insight
- In-context analytics at the point of decision
We developed Syntelate XA to fulfill these needs. It’s built with flexible architecture for scalability and customization, and offers in-context analytics with real-time insight, personalization, APIs and REST end points.
We’re continuously developing the analytics capabilities of Syntelate XA to help contact centres develop better experiences for their employees and customers, and better results for their business.
Next month, in Part Two, we’ll take a look at the role of analytics in helping the business create better employee experiences that in turn bring results.
- Part 2: The Evolution of the Contact Centre: Planning for growth, November 2020, Call Centre Management Association, www.ccma.org.uk
- Part 1: The Evolution of the Contact Centre, August 2020, A CCMA Research Initiative. Call Centre Management Association, www.ccma.org.uk
- Webinar: ‘The End of Third-party Cookies’, OneTrust PreferenceChoice, DMA, 11 May, 2021.
- Adweek, ‘Smart Marketers Should Turn to First-party Data First’, Social Pro Daily, in: Webinar: ‘The End of Third-party Cookies’.
- UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide (2020-21 – 3rd edition), ContactBabel, 2020, Available at: www.contactbabel.com
If you’re looking for more information on third-party cookies in UK law, I recommend the Information Commissioner’s Office independent guidance on cookies and similar technologies.